Putin di­rected cam­paign to help Trump – re­port

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Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin or­dered an ef­fort to help Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump’s elec­toral chances by dis­cred­it­ing Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, US in­tel­li­gence agen­cies said in an as­sess­ment.

Rus­sia’s ob­jec­tives were to un­der­mine pub­lic faith in the process, den­i­grate Clin­ton, make it harder for her to win and harm her pres­i­dency if she did, an un­clas­si­fied re­port re­leased on Fri­day by the Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence said.

“We as­sess Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin or­dered an in­flu­ence cam­paign in 2016 aimed at the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion,” the re­port said. “We fur­ther as­sess Putin and the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment de­vel­oped a clear pref­er­ence for pres­i­den­t­elect Trump. We have high con­fi­dence in these judg­ments.”

Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties had not com­mented on the re­port by yes­ter­day.

The re­port, al­though it omit­ted clas­si­fied de­tails, was the US gov­ern­ment’s stark­est pub­lic de­scrip­tion of what it says was an un­prece­dented Rus­sian cam­paign to ma­nip­u­late the Amer­i­can body politic.

The re­port’s con­clu­sions, though lack­ing de­tails of how the Rus­sians may have re­layed the ma­te­rial to Wik­iLeaks and oth­ers, will give am­mu­ni­tion to Democrats and Trump’s fel­low Re­pub­li­cans in Congress who want tougher action against Rus­sia, set­ting the scene for a po­ten­tial show­down with Trump.

It could also give a boost to mem­bers of Congress seek­ing an in­de­pen­dent, bi­par­ti­san in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Rus­sian hack­ing.

Trump, who has de­vel­oped a rocky re­la­tion­ship with US spy agen­cies and at times dis­par­aged their work, de­fended the le­git­i­macy of his elec­tion vic­tory af­ter re­ceiv­ing a nearly two-hour brief­ing on Fri­day on the re­port.

In a state­ment af­ter his in­tel­li­gence brief­ing, Trump did not squarely ad­dress whether he was told of the agen­cies’ be­lief Rus­sia car­ried out the hack­ing.

In­stead, he said: “Rus­sia, China, other coun­tries, out­side groups and peo­ple are con­sis­tently try­ing to break through the cy­ber­in­fras­truc­ture of our gov­ern­men­tal in­sti­tu­tions, busi­nesses and or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion.

“There was ab­so­lutely no ef­fect on the out­come of the elec­tion, in­clud­ing the fact that there was no tam­per­ing what­so­ever with vot­ing ma­chines,” Trump said.

The busi­ness­man, who is to be in­au­gu­rated as pres­i­dent on Jan­uary 20, also said he would ap­point a team to give him a plan within 90 days of tak­ing of­fice on how to pre­vent cy­ber­at­tacks, but sug­gested that he would keep their rec­om­men­da­tions se­cret.

The re­port did not re­veal how the agen­cies col­lected the ev­i­dence un­der­pin­ning their con­clu­sions or the ev­i­dence it­self – omis­sions likely to leave the re­port open to crit­i­cism.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Schiff, the top Demo­crat on the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence, took is­sue with Trump’s com­ments.

“The pres­i­dent elect’s state­ment that the Rus­sian hack­ing had ‘ab­so­lutely no ef­fect on the out­come of the elec­tion’ is not sup­ported by the brief­ing, re­port or com­mon sense,” Schiff said.

– Reuters

NO EF­FECT Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump

‘IN­FLU­ENCER’ Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin

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